Vim sheet

A Great Vim Cheat Sheet

Note: If you’re decent at vim and want your mind blown, check out Advanced Vim.

I’ve compiled a list of essential vim commands that I use every day. I then give a few instructions on how to making vim as great as it should be, because it’s painful without configuration.

Cursor movement (Inside command/normal mode)

  • w - jump by start of words (punctuation considered words)
  • W - jump by words (spaces separate words)
  • e - jump to end of words (punctuation considered words)
  • E - jump to end of words (no punctuation)
  • b - jump backward by words (punctuation considered words)
  • B - jump backward by words (no punctuation)
  • 0 - (zero) start of line
  • ^ - first non-blank character of line (same as 0w)
  • $ - end of line
  • Advanced (in order of what I find useful)
    • Ctrl+d - move down half a page
    • Ctrl+u - move up half a page
    • } - go forward by paragraph (the next blank line)
    • { - go backward by paragraph (the next blank line)
    • gg - go to the top of the page
    • G - go the bottom of the page
    • : [num] [enter] - Go To that line in the document
    • Searching
      • f [char] - Move to the next char on the current line after the cursor
      • F [char] - Move to the next char on the current line before the cursor
      • t [char] - Move to before the next char on the current line after the cursor
      • T [char] - Move to before the next char on the current line before the cursor
      • All these commands can be followed by ; (semicolon) to go to the next searched item, and , (comma) to go the the previous searched item

Insert/Appending/Editing Text

  • Results in insert mode
    • i - start insert mode at cursor
    • I - insert at the beginning of the line
    • a - append after the cursor
    • A - append at the end of the line
    • o - open (append) blank line below current line (no need to press return)
    • O - open blank line above current line
    • cc - change (replace) an entire line
    • c [movement command] - change (replace) from the cursor to the move-to point.
    • ex. ce changes from the cursor to the end of the cursor word
  • Esc - exit insert mode
  • r [char] - replace a single character with the specified char (does not use insert mode)
  • d - delete
    • d - [movement command] deletes from the cursor to the move-to point.
    • ex. de deletes from the cursor to the end of the current word
  • dd - delete the current line
  • Advanced
    • J - join line below to the current one

Marking text (visual mode)

  • v - starts visual mode
    • From here you can move around as in normal mode (hjkl etc.) and can then do a command (such as y, d, or c)
  • V - starts linewise visual mode
  • Ctrl+v - start visual block mode
  • Esc - exit visual mode
  • Advanced
    • O - move to Other corner of block
    • o - move to other end of marked area

Visual commands

Type any of these while some text is selected to apply the action

  • y - yank (copy) marked text
  • d - delete marked text
  • c - delete the marked text and go into insert mode (like c does above)

Cut and Paste

  • yy - yank (copy) a line
  • p - put (paste) the clipboard after cursor
  • P - put (paste) before cursor
  • dd - delete (cut) a line
  • x - delete (cut) current character
  • X - delete previous character (like backspace)


  • :w - write (save) the file, but don't exit
  • :wq - write (save) and quit
  • :q - quit (fails if anything has changed)
  • :q! - quit and throw away changes


  • /pattern - search for pattern
  • ?pattern - search backward for pattern
  • n - repeat search in same direction
  • N - repeat search in opposite direction
  • :%s/old/new/g - replace all old with new throughout file (gn is better though)
  • :%s/old/new/gc - replace all old with new throughout file with confirmations

Working with multiple files

  • :e filename - Edit a file
  • :tabe - make a new tab
  • gt - go to the next tab
  • gT - go to the previous tab
  • Advanced
    • :vsp - vertically split windows
    • ctrl+ws - Split windows horizontally
    • ctrl+wv - Split windows vertically
    • ctrl+ww - switch between windows
    • ctrl+wq - Quit a window


Marks allow you to jump to designated points in your code.

  • m{a-z} - Set mark {a-z} at cursor position
  • A capital mark {A-Z} sets a global mark and will work between files
  • ‘{a-z} - move the cursor to the start of the line where the mark was set
  • ‘’ - go back to the previous jump location


  • u - undo
  • Ctrl+r - redo
  • . - repeat last command

Making Vim actually useful

Vim is quite unpleasant out of the box. For example, typeing :w for every file save is awkward and copying and pasting to the system clipboard does not work. But a few changes will get you much closer to the editor of your dreams.


  • My .vimrc file has some pretty great ideas I haven't seen elsewhere.
  • This is a minimal vimrc that focuses on three priorities:
    • adding options that are strictly better (like more information showing in autocomplete)
    • more convenient keystrokes (like [space]w for write, instead of :w [enter])
    • a similar workflow to normal text editors (like enabling the mouse)


  • Copy this to your home directory and restart vim. Read through it to see what you can now do (like [space]w to save a file)
    • mac users - making a hidden normal file is suprisingly tricky. Here’s one way:
      • in the command line, go to the home directory
      • type nano .vimrc
      • paste in the contents of the .vimrc file
      • ctrl+x, y, [enter] to save
  • You should now be able to press [space]w in normal mode to save a file.
  • [space]p should paste from the system clipboard (outside of vim).
    • If you can’t paste, it’s probably because vim was not built with the system clipboard option. To check, run vim --version and see if +clipboard exists. If it says -clipboard, you will not be able to copy from outside of vim.
    • For mac users, homebrew install vim with the clipboard option. Install homebrew and then run brew install vim.
      • then move the old vim binary: $ mv /usr/bin/vim /usr/bin/vimold
      • restart your terminal and you should see vim --version now with +clipboard


  • The easiest way to make vim more powerful is to use Vintageous in sublime (version 3). This gives you Vim mode inside sublime. I suggest this (or a similar setup with the Atom editor) if you aren't a vim master. Check out Advanced Vim if you are.
  • Vintageous is great, but I suggest you change a few settings to make it better.

    • Clone this repository to ~/.config/sublime-text-3/Packages/Vintageous, or similar. Then check out the "custom" branch.
      • Alternatively, you can get a more updated Vintageous version by cloning the official repo and then copying over this patch.
    • Change the user settings (User/Preferences.sublime-settings) to include:
      • "caret_style": "solid"
      • This will make the cursor not blink, like in vim.
      • sublime might freeze when you do this. It’s a bug; just restart sublime after changing the file.
    • ctrl+r in vim means "redo". But there is a handy ctrl+r shortcut in sublime that gives an "outline" of a file. I remapped it to alt+r by putting this in the User keymap
      • { "keys": ["alt+r"], "command": "show_overlay", "args": {"overlay": "goto", "text": "@"} },
    • Add the ability to toggle vintageous on and off
    • Mac users: you will not have the ability to hold down a navigation key (like holding j to go down). To fix this, run the commands specified here:
  • Now you should be able to restart sublime and have a great vim environment! Sweet Dude.

Switch Caps Lock and Escape

  • I highly recommend you switch the mapping of your caps lock and escape keys. You'll love it, promise! Switching the two keys is platform dependent; google should get you the answer


I don’t personally use these yet, but I’ve heard other people do!

  • :wqa - Write and quit all open tabs (thanks Brian Zick)